I have a Master’s degree in Coaching & Mentoring, and I’m a Certified Coach, trained by Dr. Martha Beck and the Coaches Training Institute.
I became a coach after almost twenty years of leading complex and risky organisational change. And facing the crucibles in my life: grief, loss and longing.
My own transformation path has led me right to you.
First, some back story…
When I was five, I was in the Red Group at my tiny village school in New Zealand, because I was best at reading. I had to sit at the front of the class because I was also best at talking. And questioning. Everything. All the time.
I have a boundless curiosity for words and people, stories and ideas.
At university I studied psychology, philosophy, poetry, feminism, theology and politics; consequently, I’m a fabulous dinner party guest. I also learnt not to let anyone cut your hair, in exchange for a Morrissey CD. Ever.
But no amount of book learning could prepare me for the sudden death of my beloved mother, one random Tuesday in 2002.
A year later came the equally unceremonious end of my marriage.
Grief-struck and sad, I raged against the universe for all the ways I had been wronged. During the day, I was leading big change projects; while at night, I resorted to my lifelong default of food and wine to numb out my too-hard-to-feel feelings. I spent a lot of time in my little London flat, thinking.
Then I had a LOT of therapy.
I decided I did not want this to be my story.
Instead, I decided to say yes. Often.
And I found myself playing cards until 3 am with several German backpackers in an underground Estonian bar, exploring the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul and running with bulls in Pamplona. I was woken by the call to prayer in a Marrakech riad, kayaked the Cares Gorge and climbed the Picos Mountains in Northern Spain. I watched the sun set in Santorini, attended the dawn service at ANZAC Cove, and survived a snowstorm in the Swiss Alps with cider, strudel and uno. I crossed the Charles Bridge in Prague and backpacked around Italy for weeks; I compared the breakfast pastries of New York, Bruges, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Paris and had my luggage lost every single time I flew Iberia airlines.
My pendulum had swung from ‘Woman Curled Up in a Ball’, to ‘Most Likely to Skinny Dip’ for half a dozen years of exhausting, brilliant fun.
But I knew I was a disembodied head chasing the next high.
Work, pinot noir, shopping and one too many adventures with infelicitous lovers — it was all an Olympic-level exercise in staying busy, to avoid being alone and facing the truth: that I felt broken, disconnected and angry, often with a little guilt and shame sprinkled on top. Neat.
It wasn’t until I stopped trying to outrun vulnerability and uncertainty that I started to heal.
Utterly knackered, I went home to New Zealand to rest. Staying still allowed me to breathe out. I began to feel the feelings I had been working really bloody hard to avoid.
I allowed myself to grieve Mum, my marriage and all the things I thought I would have done by the time I was 35.
It felt epically crappy. But I knew it was real. I found a therapist, wrote my uncensored tender heart into my journal, opened myself up to the whole spectrum of emotions and over time, everything transformed.
I began writing online in 2007. An unexpected alchemy of healing and learning came from this deceptively simple act, and it’s no small truth to say that blogging changed my life.
I found myself, my voice, and eventually, my way home to a life I couldn’t have dreamed up.
For years I was a ‘stealth blogger’ writing anonymously from behind my office cubicle. Before social media, sharing our lives on the internet meant letting people know our stories. The bloggers I followed were whole-hearted word warriors generously sharing the mess and brilliance of their real lives.
‘the minds I love most must have wild places, a tangled orchard where dark damsons drop in
the heavy grass, an overgrown little wood, the chance of a snake or two, a pool that nobody
fathomed the depth of, and paths threaded with flowers’ – Katherine Mansfield
Writing in those days was exhilarating, it was like being part of a secret club. A family.
I think the blogosphere deeply mattered to me, because for years while I was climbing the corporate ladder, I felt so empty.
I was longing for something I couldn’t describe. I felt in a constant state of limbo – split between the external trappings of a ‘successful’ life and the ache for true meaning and fulfilment.
I was trying to
make sense of control everything. Holding together a family in pain, finding my place in our new marriage, commuting every day with three million other Londoners – feeling uninspired and broken and destined to get my boss’ job (which induced a wave of nausea every time I thought about it).
But two inexplicable events changed me.
In January 2012, I stopped drinking. A few weeks later, during a moment of pure helpless rage, I stood outside and alone on a frosty night and looked up at a clear night sky. Without warning, any sense of ‘me’ suddenly disappeared.
For a few seconds, I felt myself embody both the sky and the earth: I was that, and it was me, and everything was incomprehensibly immense. It was the weirdest bloody thing.
I felt like God looked down at me during this time in my life, with my controlling, judgemental, sarcastic, often-inebriated emotional armour and said ‘oh love that’s adorable‘ and smacked me upside the head.
It woke me up to all the ways I was betraying myself. I discovered coaching soon after and it felt like coming home. All of it set me on the path to the second half of my life.
During the summer of 2014, I had heart surgery. Unexpectedly, a defibrillator was needed to stop and restart my heart. After this literal ‘reboot’, I felt utterly different. I knew some profound shift had happened.
After years of being unable to get still, I had this urge to learn to meditate. I found a deep and sacred solace when I was walking in the woods. I decided to be open to all of the inexplicable mystery. I repaired some deep old wounds with my father. Two of my closest friends fell out of my life with little explanation. New ideas and inspiration and work and clients came to me.
It was confusing and beautiful, sad and exhilarating.
I’ve meditated every day since. It’s both as prosaic as brushing my teeth, and the most profound relationship of my life. In this stillness, I quietly connect to something that I can’t honestly explain. But it feels like the best kind of connection: sacred, comforting, intimate and at times hilarious.
Now I am here: sober, awake, without all of my shit together, mostly in the flow of an awakened and fulfilling life. It is a constant source of gratitudey-wonder that I have managed to wrap a business around some of my very favourite things. My coaching practice has deep meaning for me.
My work is about helping you come home to yourself.
I aim to provide a safe place where all of you is welcome. I’m not the kind of coach that shares inspirational quotes, and you won’t see me offering up five-step solutions to your complex and nuanced challenges.
But I am fascinated by your experience of being human.
My coaching is a mindful, experiential and integrative approach to exploring the narratives that shape your life. At the core of my work is an unconditional commitment to helping you cultivate self-belief. I believe this is where your true power – your sense of home – resides.
Your story is remarkable to me. I can’t wait to get to know you better.